Thursday, June 23

Mind Your Own Business 

Sidney Harman knows a thing or two about business. He co-founded Harman/Kardon in 1953 and wrote a great book 50 years later. Here's a sample:

Time and again, in small companies and large, I have encountered senior executives who live lives of silent terror. They do their jobs, and they believe that they do them effectively, but they do not have a clue about how the whole enterprise works. It seems to them that the company has a life and motion of its own, and they live in fear that they will somehow be found out. That kind of departmentalized thinking-the specialist in the silo-produces paralysis and an absence of innovation and creativity. Coupled with top-down autocratic command, it is the essence of what I think of as old analog management. It can bring a company's growth to a full stop.

I say, "Get me some poets as managers." Poets are our original systems thinkers. They contemplate the world in which we live and feel obliged to interpret, and give expression to it in a way that makes the reader understand how that world turns. Poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers. It is from their midst that I believe we will draw tomorrow's new business leaders.

Excerpted from Mind Your Own Business by Sidney Harman Copyright © 2003

Wednesday, June 15

Motivation vs. Talent 

Motivation is what we LIKE to do naturally. Talent is what
we DO well naturally. They can exist independently, but when
they combine, they create something special. They create
motivated talents.

People often are naturally good at something (talented), but it
just doesn’t turn them on. Most people have such talents.
But then there are those talents that we really enjoy using.
These are the motivated talents, and this is where the magic is.

We use motivated talents every chance we get. Most of the time
we don’t even think about it. It’s natural and unforced. You enjoy it,
and you're good at it. That’s the hallmark of a motivated talent.

Motivated talents tend to be irrepressible. They find expression.
In fact, if you’ve ever tried to stifle a motivated talent (either
yours or someone else’s) it probably felt like you were trying
to hold two dozen ping pong balls under water at the same time.
Motivated talents pop out, even if no one else is asking for them.
And doesn’t that make sense? After all, it’s what we do well
AND enjoy.

For example, one of my favorite clients told me once, "David, you
can't open your mouth without teaching!" Teaching is one of my
motivated talents.

Now, the question is...
What are YOUR motivated talents?

...and perhaps more importantly: are you using your motivated
talents to market your services, make your work remarkable, different,
cooler, better, stronger, smarter? And are you able to ARTICULATE and
DISTINGUISH yourself from all the marketing noise out there, so your
clients and prospects can CLEARLY see how you're a one-of-a-kind

Think about it... then feel free to call me or email me for a 10-15 minute chat
(no cost, no strings) about your marketing and sales questions. My number
is 610.527.5325. Why is this free? Because you're giving me a chance to
use MY motivated talents, and I LOVE IT!!!

Monday, June 13

Are you losing 74% of potential business? 

74% of Professional Services Purchasers Say They Would Be "Much More Likely" to Consider Hiring a Service Provider if They Listened Better

A newly released customer-side research study from RainToday.com titled How Clients Buy: The Benchmark Report on Professional Services Marketing and Selling from the Client Perspective, finds that "service provider didn't listen to me" is the most widely experienced problem faced by purchasers of professional services when they are buying services. 41% of the survey's nearly 200 respondents indicated that they have recently faced this problem.

Additionally, 74% of those reporting the problem said they would be "much more likely" to consider hiring the provider if the provider listened better.

"Professionals typically pride themselves on their listening skills," said Mike Schultz, report co-author and Publisher of RainToday.com. "It seems as a group their listening skills leave a lot to be desired, and if they improved here they would win a significant amount of more business."

Among other problems faced during the process of purchasing professional services are provider did "not understand my needs" (40%), "did not craft compelling solution to my needs" (31%), "did not convince me of value I would receive" (32%), "had poor presentation skills" (24%), and "seemed to lack enthusiasm for winning my business" (24%).

The study presents opinions of decision makers within a diverse set of companies on how they identify, evaluate, and eventually hire professional service providers. Collectively, the participants themselves purchased more than $1.6 billion dollars annually of professional services.

Thursday, June 9

Specific leads for specific needs 

How do you attract red-hot prospects who are likely buyers of your
product/service? Here's what I had to say to a writer from Sales and
Marketing Management
on the question:

No matter what methods you use to generate leads (direct mail, email,
website inquiries, trade shows, telephone inquiries, etc.) you need to keep
in mind that you can't CONVINCE anyone to buy anything. All your efforts
should go toward FILTERING and SORTING.

Make the lead generation process itself interactive. ASK people what their
specific needs are, what their timeframes are, and even whether or not they
are currently looking for solutions such as yours. If they're not in the
market - and they TELL you so - you can't force them to buy!

Focus on discovering a prospect's REAL wants and needs. How do you do that? In your lead generation process, make sure you:

1. Get a conversation going. Look for what's under the surface. On the phone, for example, you could use phrases like 'Tell me more about that' or
'Why is that so?' Look for the problem behind the problem!

2. Ask direct questions. Ask your prospects what's most important to their businesses right now. On an email survey, for example, you could ask your list 'What types of issues are you looking to solve in the next 6 months?'
Include a variety of choices, some that relate to your offerings, and some
that don't.

3. Follow up in writing. Send prospects letters or e-mails that highlight their major concerns, such as the three things they said were most important to them. This SPECIFIC kind of follow-up can make the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity.

4. Use multi-step marketing. Just like you're unlikely to get married on your first visit to a singles bar, your prospect is unlikely to buy from you on your first communication. Lay out a value-rich process in which they can
learn more, try a free sample, come to a briefing, or access some other low-risk method of getting to know your company's offerings (e-news subscription, free white paper, information kit, etc.) This is a great strategy, because THESE leads are prequalified as interested and after getting several 'samples' of your value, they are pre-sold and ready to do business!

5. Target specialized markets. These days, specialized publications,
e-zines, websites, online forums, professional associations, events, and
conferences have mushroomed up everywhere! These all appeal to specific,
targeted audiences, which increases your exposure to higher quality leads.
Occupation-specific, special interest, or industry-specific channels can
greatly increase the effectiveness of your lead generation activities. Want
to reach pizza restaurant owners? Read Pizza Today! How about chicken
farmers with over 100,000 birds? Read Poultry Tribune! Think of these
specialized venues as a geiger counter that will help you to find hot - no,
radioactive - leads!

5 tips on selling deeper into existing clients 

Here are five tips on how to sell deeper into existing clients:

1. Account Evaluation

At least twice a year should do an account evaluation; it helps you decide
where to spend your time most effectively. First analyze each account on its
own merit. How much revenue do they account for? What's their profitability?
What's their percentage of your overall business?

2. Develop an Account Strategy

Figure out the ROE of that account - that is Return on Effort! How much do
they buy vs. how much work does it take on your part to generate additional
sales? What is your current position with that account on scale of 1-10? Do
they love you, or are they about to jump ship? Are you a partner or a
peddler in their eyes? And the tough question: Do you keep them or 'fire'
them in favor of more profitable clients?

3. Do a Who-What-Where Analysis

Now that you have looked at the account generally, what are the aspects of
the account you can expand? Are they buying similar product lines or
services from other sources? Can you expand your level of service with them? Can you sell to other departments/ areas/ regions/ etc.? How? Who in the organization can help you? Who outside the organization can help you? What part of the pie do you have? The real question is how can you get 100% of the business from 100% of your customers?

4. ToMA - Top of Mind Awareness

Top of mind awareness should be the goal in gaining more business. Stay in
front of current clients with value. Why? So that when they think of your
product/service, they think of you first! Consider different forms of
staying in touch. What will they respond to and keep? E-mails? Letters?
Offers? Coupons? Industry news? Articles? Newsletters? Develop a 12-month ToMA campaign plan!

5. Leveraging the Layers

Leveraging the layers means knowing all the key influencers in the account.
Think of your current client organizations as a 7 layer cake. Most
salespeople know (and sell to) the top layer – or worse, the middle layer!
And most salespeople stop selling after the first slice is sold! Know all
the layers - get introduced up and down the organization. Then, sell all the
layers. How? Communicate with all of them; share your value and your ideas
with all of them. Finally, develop a 'key employee' exit strategy - in other
words, think about what to do if your favorite contact at that company moves
on. Will you lose the account? You won't if you've done these 5 steps

Wednesday, June 8

Prohibit Weapons in the Workplace 

From a recent HR newsletter that came across my desk...
It’s not surprising, but a recent report in the American Journal of Public Health clearly shows that employers who adopt policies restricting weapons in the workplace are more likely to protect their employees. Workplaces where weapons are permitted were about five (5) times more likely to experience a homicide than those where weapons were prohibited.

Every employer should have a written policy prohibiting weapons in the workplace. Don’t assume it’s common sense - it isn’t to the employee who brings the weapon to work.

Gosh, this makes me want to rethink the whole consultant thing... maybe I DO belong in the workplace, huh?

Executive Speaking Tips 

Here are tips to help you bring success to any event when you're asked to 'say a few words.' Follow these tips and you'll also bring credit to your role as a leader.

Be Prepared
Recognize that if you are the supervisor, manager, or top executive attending a company event, there is at least a 99.9% chance that you will be called upon to speak. This includes retirement dinners, company picnics, service award banquets, conferences, management retreats, holiday luncheons, and (even) informal parties. Prepare in advance. Even seasoned professional speakers prepare for presentations that they have delivered hundreds of times.

Be Rehearsed
Once you know what is expected, then plan what you will say. What message do you want to convey? What points do you want to make? What impression do you want to leave?

Be Gracious
Recognize that when you speak at a business event, you represent your company and your office in that company. Use the event as an opportunity to promote good will. Avoid complaints, criticism, or controversy. These will alienate the audience and destroy your credibility.

Be Appropriate
Humor is a wonderful technique for establishing rapport with an audience. If you plan to use humor, be appropriate. Avoid making fun of anyone or anything that might offend people in your audience. Often, the only safe target of humor is yourself.

Be Professional
Avoid all admissions of inadequacy, such as "I'm not too good at speaking" or "I don't know a whole lot about this topic." Just do it. No side commentary needed. Most likely, they will appreciate your sincere efforts to communicate.

Remember: Communication is a prime responsibility of every leader.

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